Forests - threats

Around the world, lush tropical forests are being logged for timber and pulp, cleared to grow food, and destroyed by the impacts of climate change. Four fifths of the forest that covered almost half of the Earth's land surface eight thousand years ago have already been irreplaceably degraded or destroyed.

Every two seconds, an area of forest the size of a football pitch is lost due to logging or destructive practices. Seventy two per cent of Indonesia's intact forest landscapes and 15 per cent of the Amazon's have already been lost forever. Now the Congo's forests face the same threat.

While the causes vary from region to region, they all have one thing in common: human activity. Through agriculture and logging, mining and climate change, humankind is wiping out irreplaceable forests - and the life that depends on them - at a terrifying pace.

View of the Amazon from above. This 1645 hectare area has been logged to plant soy.

Agri-business is responsible for massive rainforest destruction as forests are burned to make way for cattle ranches, or cleared for palm oil or soya plantations. In this way, irreplaceable rainforests are converted into products that are used to make toothpaste, chocolate and animal feed.

Industrial logging for timber, pulp and paper has also devastated much of the world's rainforests. Not only are ancient trees cut down on a vast scale, but unplanned and inefficient practices lead to enormous additional wastage. And, by building roads into pristine rainforests, the logging industry opens them up to secondary effects like human settlement, hunting, fuel-wood gathering and agriculture.

Today, forests face another threat. Deforestation contributes to climate change (overall, it accounts for one-fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions - which is why Indonesia is the world's third largest greenhouse gas emitter and Brazil the fourth). At the same time, climate change itself threatens forests on a terrifying scale.

Rising global temperatures damage and kill trees, and increase drought and forest fires. Dying trees release still more carbon, which further increases our global temperature. This cycle of forest collapse represents a critical feedback loop that could drive warming for centuries, change life cycles on Earth, and usher in a sweeping transformation of human civilisation. The surest way to stop it is to end deforestation.

Greenpeace is campaigning for zero deforestation globally by 2020 because protecting forests is one of the quickest and most effective ways to prevent climate change, protect biodiversity and defend the rights of forest communities.

To realise this vision, the international community, corporations, forest communities and individuals in consumer countries will need to work together in an unprecedented, concerted effort. You can read more about the solutions to forest destruction here.

The latest updates

 

6 ways corporate lawsuits kill free speech (and how to fight back!)

Blog entry by Molly Dorozenski | 9 May, 2017

Free speech is a right. So how can a corporation possibly stop you from speaking out? Using a legal tactic called a SLAPP , corporations like the massive Canadian logging company, Resolute Forest Products, are attempting to crack down...

Saving Dvinsky Forest: If companies don't act, customers will

Blog entry by Alexey Yaroshenko | 5 May, 2017

Speaking truth to corporations has been the backbone of Greenpeace’s global forest campaign for over two decades. Putting pressure on companies buying products from forest destruction has successfully helped protect the Great Bear...

Sending wild caribou to a zoo?

Blog entry by Eduardo Sousa | 3 May, 2017

In Canada, recent government decisions to address declining caribou populations are truly dumbfounding. We live in very odd times. We have politicians in powerful positions around the world who wish to take us back to the...

Major palm oil company promises to protect forests

Blog entry by Annisa Rahmawati | 28 April, 2017

There's been a major development in our campaign to protect Indonesia's forests. IOI, one of the largest palm oil traders in the world, has just made a significant commitment to protect rainforests . If put into practice, this...

Piece by piece, Brazil is tearing up protections for the Amazon

Blog entry by Diego Gonzaga | 21 April, 2017 1 comment

From the rotten meat scandal , to the ongoing corruption investigations , it’s hard to find any uplifting news from Brazil. The country is not only going through an economic crisis, but also a political one that’s shaking the...

1 - 5 of 1712 results.

Categories